Saturday, 20 October 2007

Should all church workers train in kickboxing?

No one would attack our new Deacon lightly because they would find her defending herself by kickboxing! She came here straight from College into her first appointment and introducing herself to her new congregations she wrote, among other surprising things, "For pleasure, you will find me shouting from the touch-line of the Harlequins' Rugby field at the Stoop in Twickenham, or down at the gym training to trade in my green belt for the next level up in the discipline of kickboxing." She tells a tale of her visit to a youth club where they had the kind of games console that requires you to physically interact with it. When it came to her turn, the youngsters ran downstairs calling,"Come quick! The vicar's kickboxing!" Of course her street cred went up dramatically and instantly! This is the first Minister or Deacon that we have known who has been trained in this discipline, but after reading this week's Methodist Recorder, I wonder if it could become the norm?

I read "Churches should be more proactive in helping ministers protect themselves against violence, according to independent crime-prevention body, National Churchwatch. Christian workers should be trained to handle violent and difficult people, but the various denominations have a ‘hit and miss’ approach to training and security, National Churchwatch co-ordinator Nick Tolson told The Methodist Recorder. ‘The Church needs to be alert and proactive’, he said. ‘The statistics show that all church workers – no matter what their denomination – are at risk’. National Churchwatch, which works to safeguard church communities, calls for the church to put resources in place to promote safety issues and self-protection.
‘Ultimately, the church needs to be prepared to accept responsibility for the safety of its staff”, said Mr Tolson.

Academic research into the incidence of violence among clergy has revealed that more than 70 per cent in the South-East had been verbally abused, while between 10 to 12 per cent had suffered from a physical assault during a two-year period. The study, published by Royal Holloway, University of London,also showed that church leaders were more likely than GPs or probation officers to be attacked at work.

At present, the Methodist Church does not offer a standardised safety awareness course for pre-ordinands. Instead it relies on training institutions to instruct new Ministers on how to handle difficult situations. According to the team leader in Formation in Ministry in the Methodist Church Connexional Team, the Rev. Margaret Jones, such instruction is best given on a local, District basis.

Source: The Methodist Recorder (18/10)

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